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Caption for Photo: Photography by Matthew Staver

JUNE 6, 2024

Except from Article in STATE

By Coleman Cornelius, STATE

From petri dish to prairie: The Laramie Foothills Bison Conservation Herd restores bison and invigorates Native American culture

ASHTON BARBONE KNELT so she was face to face with a young female bison. The animal struggled in a chute designed to keep it still and safe as it was ear-tagged for identification, vaccinated against infectious disease, and samples of its blood, hair, and feces were collected for health studies. But even confined, the yearling hammered the chute’s metal panels with hard hooves – a wild animal never before handled by people.

“Hózhó,” Barbone told the bison amid the clamor on the Colorado State University Foothills Campus.

Peace, harmony, she said in the language of her Navajo people, invoking a tribal philosophy of well-being. As she spoke, Barbone calmed the yearling, using a rope to hold its head steady. Meantime, a team of CSU students, veterinarians, laboratory researchers, and volunteers swiftly accomplished their scientific tasks, pulling on medical gloves and wielding syringes, needles, sample containers, and tagging equipment, then logging the bison’s sex and new identification numbers.

Barbone, among the CSU students, gently touched the animal’s face as she helped with springtime vaccinations. “Hózhó,” she repeated.

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